Candidates lock horns over use of untaxed money

Mohiuddin Alamgir and Suzon Ali from Rajshahi | Published: 00:05, Jul 29,2018 | Updated: 11:27, Jul 29,2018


Border Guard Bangladesh members patrol the streets of Rajshahi city corporation on Saturday ahead of the RCC elections slated for Monday. — Sony Ramany

Ruling Awami League and opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party mayoral candidates raised allegations against each other of using untaxed money in the elections to Rajshahi City Corporation as the electioneering ended Saturday midnight.
BNP candidate Mossaddique Hossain Bulbul on the last day of the electioneering also alleged that the Election Commission and law enforcers were acting like ‘AL’s front organisations.’
Awami League candidate AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, however, said that law enforcers and the commission were working neutrally and his rivals were making ‘hilarious allegations.’
Both of them said that they were confident of winning the polls scheduled for Monday.
Returning officer Syed Amirul Islam said they deployed 15 platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh personnel on Saturday.
Amirul denied BNP candidate’s allegations saying, ‘These are political statements. We are performing our duties neutrally in accordance with the law.’
Mossaddique, also the outgoing Rajshahi city mayor, alleged that his rival Awami League had spent Tk 11 crore during the campaign so far.
Of the money, Tk 7.5 crore were spent for posters and festoons and Tk 3.5 crore were distributed among party activists, he alleged.
‘There is chance of using more untaxed money for the election,’ Mossaddique said when asked about allegations raised by Awami League that he was using untaxed money in the election.
AHM Khairuzzaman Liton’s election conducting committee coordinator Dablu Sarkar out rightly rejected Mossaddique’s allegation. ‘Our candidate did not spend that much money in campaign. It is a rumour,’ he said.
‘Rather, he [Mossaddique] and his supporters are distributing money through mobile banking system,’ Dablu alleged.
He alleged that Mossaddique’s supporters, especially Jamaat activists, were distributing money at places, including Sabjipara, Srirampur, Pancahpati and Dashmari.
The returning officer said that he was not aware of the use of black money in electioneering. ‘Nobody made any complaints to me regarding the matter.’
Candidates for both mayoral and councillor positions were seen making desperate last-minute campaign to reach as much as voters. City was virtually covered by posters hanging in between roads and alleys.
Campaigners held mass conduct, street meetings, sought vote using public address system and distributed leaflets and pamphlets, bereaving drizzling.
Flanked by large number of party leaders and workers, the mayoral contestants were seen meeting voters throughout the day.
Mossadique, while campaigning at Mani Chatttar, alleged that the commission and law enforcers were ‘acting like front organisations of the ruling party.’
Some people are threatening BNP activists at different wards, he alleged.
Law enforcers have so far arrested 175 BNP activists. At least 23 polling agents were arrested and sent to jails in Pabna, Natore and Chepainawabganj, he alleged.
‘We will besiege police stations if any more BNP activists were arrested.’
Mossaddique Hossain also said that the commission must answer if the election was not free and fair.
‘Sensing defeat, Awami League candidate and his supporters are planning to bring more ballot papers,’ he alleged.
Khairuzzaman at a press conference at city Awami League office at Kumarpara said that BNP candidate’s false allegations irked Rajshahi city people.
‘BNP does not have enough people to appoint polling agents, so they are trying to make it an issue,’ he said.
‘We do not need to influence police and the commission as we have enough support of people,’ he said.
According to the commission, 217 candidates are contesting the election – 5 for mayoral position, 160 for the positions of ward councillors and 52 for the positions of councillors reserved for women.
Amirul Islam said that security of all the voters would be ensured on polling day. ‘We have deployed 15 platoons of BGB from today.’
Beside a team of Rapid Action Battalion would carry out duties for each of the 30 wards, the returning officer said.
He said that three-tier security measures would be ensured to make the election free, fair and credible.
He said that 24 law enforcers would be deployed for each of 114 critical polling stations and 22 law enforcers would be deployed for each of the rest 24 polling stations.
Shushashoner Janno Nagorik Rajshahi unit from a rally at Alupatty called on the voters to elect honest and competent candidates to strengthen democracy and socio-economic development in Rajshahi.
It also urged the voters to boycott corrupts, extremists, war criminals, repressors of women and children, drug peddlers and loan defaulters in the election. 

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